Samsung Ativ S

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/ Updated: 30 August 2012 3:30 pm BST

Windows Phone is about to get a huge shot in the arm with the arrival of Windows Phone 8 , which adds loads of new software features and throws open the doors to mobiles with high-resolution screens and powerful processors.

Samsung is barging in like a brash bulldog with its first Windows Phone 8 device -- the palm-filling Ativ S. Bearing a daft name (it's 'vita' backwards, says Samsung, as if that makes it okay) and a big screen, this is a phone worth keeping an eye on.

Read on for our hands-on impressions of the Ativ S, and be sure to check this page again later for hands-on video and -- eventually -- a full review.

Display and design

The Ativ S is a huge phone, dwarfed only by gadgets like the Galaxy Note. It has a 4.8-inch display, which is the same size as Samsung's extremely popular, Android-powered Galaxy S3.

Samsung Ativ S
The big Super AMOLED screen spreads out like a vast, shimmering lake.

That screen is of the HD Super AMOLED variety, which means it'll be extremely colourful, with a huge heap of contrast to do your photos and video justice. The display is 720p, once more matching the Galaxy S3.

This phone is extremely slim, measuring just 8.7mm thick. It's light too, at 135g, so even though it's a very big mobile, carting it about all afternoon won't weigh you down.

Hardware and camera

The Ativ S may be the same size as the Galaxy S3, but in the processor stakes it doesn't have as much grunt as Samsung's quad-core powerhouse.

There's a 1.5GHz dual-core chip humming away inside this smart phone, which may not sound that powerful by today's standards, but how speedy the phone proves to be will depend greatly on Windows Phone 8 itself.

Samsung Ativ S
Tucked away inside the Ativ S is a 1.5GHz dual-core chip.

Current Windows Phone devices are limited to single-core chips, and I'm yet to use one that feels distractingly sluggish. If Windows Phone 8 doesn't prove too demanding in the power stakes, this dual-core chip could prove more than adequate for playing games or running more intensive apps.

On the back there's a 8-megapixel camera with an LED flash and autofocus, while a second 1.9-megapixel snapper on the front can be used for video calling, or taking photos of your nostrils.

Software

Windows Phone 8 introduces bigger, more customisable homescreens, as well as other features  like improved maps. The software is quite appealing, though if you're keen on getting involved, be aware that the diversity of apps is still limited compared to Android and Apple's iOS.

There are a few Samsung-specific apps that'll come pre-loaded, including ChatOn, which is the company's own-brand instant messaging app, and the Samsung Music Hub.

Samsung Ativ S
The new Windows 8 homescreens should look lovely on the Super AMOLED screen.

Microsoft will be providing Microsoft Office apps, including PowerPoint, Word, Excel and One Note. The thought of doing some proper, spreadsheet-style work on your smart phone may not fill you with glee, but we'll be interested to see exactly how much tinkering the Office for Windows Phone 8 apps let you perform.

Outlook

Samsung has form in building big phones, so I'm keen to see what it can do for the new Windows Phone 8 operating system. The Ativ S will have plenty of competition when it launches though (from phones with better names), so it'll need to impress in the camera, performance and battery stakes to win our hearts. Stay tuned for the full review.

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Samsung Ativ S (unlocked)

Part Number: ATIVSULK
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